Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in defense of the Florida State bar, upholding state laws that prohibit elected judges from personally soliciting donations to support their campaigns. In a 5-4 decision, the Court rejected a free speech claim brought forward from a Florida judge, recognizing the importance of maintaining the diginity appropriate to judicial office.

The decision renews the public’s confidence in the judiciary, and allows states to protect the fairness of our courts.

Free Speech For People responded to today’s ruling:

“Today, the Supreme Court recognized that the sight of judges jockeying for campaign cash can lead to a loss of public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary. This is an important step forward in the movement to restore sanity to judicial election campaigns.”
— Ron Fein, Legal Director, Free Speech For People
“The Court’s opinion goes a long way toward preserving the fairness, impartiality, independence and dignity of this Nation’s elected judges and justices. Correctly, the Court cites to the potential for and appearance of corruption that is occasioned when judicial candidates solicit campaign contributions from voters–and more typically attorneys. Unfortunately, the Court’s decision in Citizens United remains the elephant in the room. The same values that the Court upholds in Williams-Yulee are destroyed when individuals and dark money PACs and organizations can pour unlimited amounts of cash into maligning judicial candidates and misleading and misinforming the public about the candidates. Indeed, the Court’s two decisions, to that extent, are wholly inconsistent.”
James Nelson, former Justice of the Montana Supreme Court and Board Member of Free Speech For People
“Chief Justice John Roberts’s opinion today for the Supreme Court in the Williams-Yulee case marks an important victory for protecting the integrity of our courts across the country. At the same time, it demonstrates an inherent contradiction with the Court’s campaign finance jurisprudence. Our current system of pay-to-play politics endangers public confidence in our democratic institutions, as much as it endangers public confidence in our judiciary in those states holding judicial elections. The Court’s recent rulings in Citizens United and McCutcheon cannot be reconciled with today’s ruling in Williams-Yulee.”
John Bonifaz, Co-Founder and President, Free Speech For People

Free Speech For People filed a brief before the Supreme Court in defense of Florida’s rule barring personal solicitation of campaign contributions by judges and judicial candidates. Additional information on our brief can be accessed here.

Download Free Speech For People’s Statement on Williams-Yulee ruling  [PDF]

Download Free Speech For People’s amicus brief in Williams-Yulee [PDF]